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EDITORIAL

Being thankful for what we have

Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 12:01 am

About "reasonable profit" and having to work on the holidays.

Many Americans seem to be in an unnecessary panic over the possible demise of Twinkies and Ding Dongs if the Hostess Brands bakery goes under. Even though talks between the company and union failed, it is quite probable that somebody will pick up those signature snacks at the bankruptcy sale. Twinkies will survive if some enterprising capitalist decides there is a reasonable profit to be made and a realistic chance to make it.

That “reasonable profit” part is Economics 101 but apparently a mystery to members of the unions that seemed intent on striking themselves out of their jobs. For many reasons, including managerial ineptitude and a consuming public demanding healthier snacks, it was getting harder to make that profit. The unions had cooperated with management before to improve the company’s viability, but, ironically, their patience may have run out just when it was needed most. “Lousy jobs with a company that doesn’t love us” are far better than “no jobs.”

There is a lot of that – shall we call it “lack of thankfulness”? – going around these days. Retail workers are starting to complain bitterly now that Black Friday sales have been moved back to Thanksgiving Day and many people are faced with having to work on what had become one of the few remaining family-gathering days. Employees of both Target and Wal-Mart have publicly protested, and the group Change.org claims to have collected 350,000 signatures from people against Target’s 9 p.m. Thanksgiving opening.

Time for a reality check, folks. Retail establishments of all types face tremendous challenges these days. In fact, you might say they are under the same kind of stress faced by a sugar-peddling bakery in a time of growing health-and-fitness awareness. Online retailers, free of the need for high overhead costs, are taking an ever-growing share of sales. Brick-and-mortar stores are failing at a frightening (to their owners at least) rate, and they’ll do whatever they can to stay in business. That means, more than anything, trying to push the holiday sales that make up the largest share of their profits.

Employees of the stores that are left should be grateful they have jobs to complain about going to. It’s nice to spend Thanksgiving with family. It’s even nicer, though, to be able to provide the food for the family table. Working on holidays is preferable to not working 365 days a year.

No, being thankful does not require stoically accepting every lousy deal someone tries to shove off on us. We always try to do better and to be more, to strive to improve our lot in life. But it does mean not throwing away what we have too hastily.